The Bossy Bookworm
Review of Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Greenlights is wonderfully entertaining and endearing, showcasing McConaughey's frequently zany encounters, lust for adventure, and sometimes offbeat self-reflection.
"I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops."
Welcome to Matthew McConaughey's world! If you're game to roll with hearing about his unique viewpoint and approach to life, Greenlights is a fun, poignant, occasionally alarming, and often charming ride.
McConaughey mines his decades of diaries, lived experiences, memories, and other frequently unexpected avenues that led to inspiration and realizations to write this "love letter to life." He offers sometimes wild stories of following various whims and passions and desires, all with a constant undercurrent of pushing the limits of his comfort and seeking challenge. He shares notable moments from his travels; industry stories; and family tales.
At times he's guided in his decision-making by interpreting his own wet dreams (truly)--they aren't necessarily sexual in nature, yet they end in a climax that draws his attention and focus to the matter at hand and they thereby lead to various shifts in his life path.
He recounts the repeated rite of passage in which his father demanded an all-out brawl with each of his teen or young adult sons; McConaughey recognizes the brutality and the unorthodox approach, but as with other occurrences of ferocity he mentions (his mother's broken fingers and varied instances of his parents' volatile relationship are other examples of this), he accepts it, finds what wisdom or understanding he can draw from it, and moves along.
“Persist, pivot, or concede. It’s up to us, our choice every time.”
McConaughey shares vulnerable moments and times when he questioned aspects of his life, and through hindsight he makes sense of what's come before, establishing value in what initially feels like failure or a misstep. He's a big believer in venturing forth, making mistakes, reflecting on them, and venturing forth again.
“I haven't made all A's in the art of living. But I give a damn. And I'll take an experienced C over an ignorant A any day.”
Some of these were short snippets; his “bumper sticker!” announcements felt a little jarring. I listened to this as an audiobook, and it's possible that added to the feeling of being yelled at with these nuggets of wisdom. But McConaughey's voice pulled me into his frequently zany encounters, lust for adventure, and sometimes offbeat self-reflection. Greenlights is, ultimately, wonderfully entertaining and endearing.
“We all have scars, we gonna have more. Rather than struggle against time and waste it, let’s dance with time and redeem it. 'Cause we don’t live longer when we try not to die. We live longer when we are too busy living.”
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
When I started this book, I messaged my friend Hannah: "It's Matthew McConaughey's world and we're all just L-I-V-I-N' in it!" McConaughey is doing his own thing, striving for honesty and growth, and it's all pretty irresistibly engaging.